Brooklands Motorcycle Team restore 1922 bike in time for centenary celebrations
25 November 2022
Friday 25th November 2022 marks the centenary of the last land speed record set by a motorcycle at the Brooklands motor circuit in 1922, and also the unveiling of the newly restored Rudge motorcycle from the Museum's collection.
It was a dry and sunny November morning on the Railway Straight, when the team wheeled out the 1922 988cc V-Twin Rudge, unlike 100 years before, when the original riders had set records through damp and overcast conditions, and on the uneven surfaces of the famous Brooklands motor racing circuit.
Current members of the Brooklands Motorcycle Team and Museum volunteers Martin Gegg, Gareth Pemberton and Ian Dabney were on a mission to bring the motorcycle back to life in time for the centenary and had gathered a small group to witness what was hoped would be another historic day.
Martin Gegg said:
“This is the very bike that set the last record of the season in 1922 and it was gifted to the Museum in 2019. We don’t how long it is since it last ran, but what we do know is that it was found in an orchard in 1956. It was in pretty good condition when we got it; we had to straighten out the frame and work on a few other things. Rudge spare parts are non-existent, so the team had to make the parts themselves, as authentically as possible. The carburettor, which was only installed this morning, is the final piece of the puzzle and we’re hoping that today will be the day we get to see the Rudge run again.”
The dedicated Motorcycle Team began a three-year project in the summer of 2019 to bring the bike back to life. The Rudge, built to order in January 1922, was the ideal vehicle for daring riders Bob Dicker and Bert Mathers to attempt the many speed records that they would go on to achieve that year.
Bob Dicker was a familiar face at Brooklands – he was the lead mechanic of the team who assembled the Vickers Vimy at Brooklands, the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic, flown by Alcock and Brown in 1919.
Riding in relay for 1 ½ hour stints, Dicker and Mathers broke seven records in that single day, lapping consistently for over eight hours, breaking the 500mile and 600mile records, setting new world records of 74.96mph and 71.27mph respectively and setting a new overall speed record of 75.02 mph (120.73 kmph) over a 6 hour period.
Having spent the best part of 70 years in storage, the day had finally arrived to put the recommissioned machine to the test. After carrying out the safety checks and getting the team into position, the Rudge spluttered to life. With a little push from team-mate Ian, rider Gareth suddenly took off along the Railway Straight! Punching the air, Ian and Martin looked on with pride and beaming smiles as the Rudge drove down the iconic Railway Straight for the first time in 100 years, to sounds of cheers and applause, recreating a moment from Brooklands history.
Gareth Pemberton, said:
“What an amazing experience! It was great to ride; it’s a fast bike but it was built to break records, so it’s what you’d expect. I didn’t get out of first gear, mainly because it was going fast enough in first – and the brakes are barely existent – but the controllability was very good, and the result is exactly what we had hoped for. I know the team will be pleased.”
The Rudge will be on display next year at Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey.
Bert Mathers sitting on the 988cc V-twin Rudge in 1922
Bob Dicker Rudge Sidecar Outfit Brooklands 1923